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(LEAD) Carter stress U.S. committed to protecting S. Korea from N. Korean aggression

All News 13:33 June 04, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in last 3 paras)
By Park Boram

SINGAPORE, June 4 (Yonhap) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the United States is committed to implementing a full range of military capabilities to deter any North Korean attacks on South Korea, Seoul's defense ministry said Saturday after the allies' defense chiefs held bilateral talks.

"Secretary of Defense Carter stressed that the U.S. will continue to provide extended deterrence to South Korea, utilizing all categories of military capabilities," the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Carter held a meeting in Singapore earlier in the day on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

It was their first face-to-face meeting since the annual Security Consultative Meeting held in Seoul in November.

"Alliance between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea remains the linchpin of the regional peace and security particularly in light of North Korea's recent provocations," Carter said at the beginning of the talks, which were open to the media. "The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea is ironclad."

Han and Carter jointly denounced North Korea's fourth nuclear test and recent missile launches as clear violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"Both ministers called on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and discard its nuclear program in a complete, verifiable, irreversible manner," according to the statement.

The two men resolved to push for a more effective implementation of the punitive United Nations Security Council resolution 2270 adopted following the North Korean provocations.

The defense chiefs then reaffirmed their joint commitment to tightening their trilateral cooperation involving Japan, to boost maritime security and support counter-terrorism efforts.

Defense ministry officials, meanwhile, said on-going dialogue between the allies related to the deployment of a sophisticated U.S. missile intercept system on South Korean soil was not mentioned during the 37-minute talk.

The countries are formally engaged in working level discussions to review the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to counter growing North Korean ballistic missile threats.

Carter reportedly mentioned earlier that the THAAD issue will come up at the talks with Han which spawned media speculations about the air defense shield's imminent deployment to South Korea.


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